Monday, October 10, 2011


When it comes to housing right now, it's certainly a buyer's market. I tend to think that the stock market is as well, and I say buy stocks now, and lots of it. I know it sounds like a crazy idea. There's a ton of uncertainty on all points of the economy, and it's not just about the United States at this point, but what's going on the world over. Everyone's economy is suffering, not just ours. Still, there's a lot of cash sitting, waiting on the sidelines. Corporations have it. I think many individual investors have it. And a lot of that cash will eventually wind up either in the marketplace or in the stock market—both of which bode well for investors by the way.
On top of all of that, haven't we been here before? We certainly were in a place similar to this in the years between 1929-1932. We were in a place similar to this just before Ronald Reagan became president. There are variables, of course. But when times seem to be so bad that there's no point of return, that's when you have to pounce. Stocks prices are heavily discounted right now, and I think most people who are in the know, even the ones who are heading for the hills with their cach├ęs of cash, would all agree that the fundamentals are still strong. Have you seen the price to earnings ratios on some of these stocks?

Jim Cramer says get paid to wait, and I think that's a sound bit of advice in this current investment climate. Buy the bellweathers. Look for high yields and strong secular companies that are paying them. Buy smartly by all means, and then close your eyes and keep buying.

The end of the world is hardly around the corner. The death of capitalism is hardly imminent. The resilient nature of the American people will prevail, and will lead the way to a recovery in the economy that will come. The American economy, as well as the economies of the world will see better times ahead, and those who will reap the greatest reward will be those who never lost faith through the worst of times.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Should abortions be made illegal?

Being that I am pro-life, you'd immediately assume that my answer would be yes. Abortions should be illegal. However, despite my very strong belief that abortions are wrong, I also hold a very strong belief that we are a free country, and for the most part we should be free, as Americans, to decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. I think that to live in a world where one's ideology is necessarily mandated is a scary thing. I feel one way. You feel another. Neither of us are, perhaps, absolutely right or wrong in our beliefs. The crux of the matter, for me, is how we make these very important decisions for ourselves as to what is the right course or not. In this case, as it applies to abortions. My preference on this issue of abortions is that people would have the ability to make sound judgement decisions before they find themselves in a position to have to decide between aborting or not. When the decision to abort is the result of reacting to prior poor judgement, I feel that abortion is patently wrong.

Putting it into another context, which I realize is not really along the same lines, should we ban all alcohol from being served in any establishment that happens to have a parking lot? The answer is, of course, no. Should people exercise good judgement before they get into their car to drive away from that establishment where they, perhaps, have just consumed too much alcohol? Yes.

At the end of the day, whether or not abortion is legal or not is not the problem. Whether or not a business serves alcohol to potential drivers is not the problem. It all boils down to judgement. There is good judgement, and poor judgement, and I think it is far more valuable, and far more important to find ways to help people along in making good, sound judgement before alternative decisions must be weighed in on, than mandating whether a decision can be made at all. I want to live in a world where sure, we all have many options before us, but wherein the majority of us are apt, capable, and compelled to take the right path all on our own.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Springboard asks YOU, would you be willing to pay more for a Made in the USA choice for an identical product?

If I had two identical pairs of shoes in front of me, one pair made in China, and the other made in the USA, and the pair made in the USA were $2 more, would I pay the extra $2 simply because they were made here? The answer for me would be an immediate yes. What I am taking into account with this question is the basic premise that as Americans we readily accept premiums for certain choices every day based on our personal preferences, and beliefs. For example, if we consider our health to be important, we may choose an organic food item over one that is not, and we choose as well to pay a premium price for it. We may feel that a free-range chicken is treated better before he winds up on our plate than one that is couped, and so we are willing to pay more for the free-range chicken. Fair trade coffee offers more money to coffee growers for their crops, and if we feel that fair trade is important we are willing to pay more for fair trade coffee. If you are a liberal politically, you may be inclined to pay more taxes to help those less fortunate via social programs. If a company chose to put two identical products on the shelf, one made in China and one made in the USA, would you be willing to pay more for the made in USA item based on the same principles we would apply to paying the premium on the other items in the example?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What do you think about investing in gold right now?

At one time gold was a great place to sock away some cash, of that there is no question. However, I think that gold now is one of the worst investments someone can make, and I would strongly caution anyone against it. To me all of the indicators that gold is in a bubble are clear. Take, for example, the advent of numerous kiosks collecting scrap gold that have cropped up in our neighborhood shopping malls. There are gold collection sites on street corners, and some pawn shops, and even a few jewelry stores have transformed completely into gold collection businesses. This is clearly a sign of the beginning of the end for gold being a current, solid investment. This is not to say that gold will have no future value, or that overall gold will still be viable as an investment, but only to say that gold's value today is greatly inflated, and it will come down hard when the bubble finally bursts. Anyone buying the commodity in any form now, including through gold funds, will see the value of their investment seriously reduced, and getting that value back will likely take many years. At present I think what is continuing to hold up the value of gold is the still uncertain future valuation and viability of the American dollar as a leading world currency, and the continuing stresses on the economies of other countries all over the world. Once we are out of the economic quagmire that we are in, gold will be less and less attractive as an investment. As in all bubbles, the fall will be swift and detrimental, and anyone caught in the fall will have their financial clock cleaned. I'm not getting near gold with a ten foot pole, and I don't think anyone else should either. Sell it. Trade it. But do not hold it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What most irritates you about other drivers?

Most people do not understand what the term "yield to the right" means. If you are waiting to make a left turn at a green light, for example, and the vehicle entering the intersection is making a right turn, the vehicle that is making the right turn has the right of way. The left turning vehicle must wait until the right turning vehicle has completed his maneuver before proceeding. The left turning vehicle must yield to the right turning vehicle. Thus the term, "yield to the right." This same rule applies at an intersection where there are two stop signs and the cross traffic does not stop. There are two cars waiting to turn into cross traffic. One car at one stop sign wants to make a left turn, and the other car is waiting to make a right turn. The right turning vehicle has the right of way. Again, in this scenario, the left turning vehicle must wait for the right turning vehicle to complete his maneuver before turning left into the cross traffic. People tend to get this confused all the time, and I find it to be especially irritating. I can't count how many times I have gotten the finger for supposedly cutting someone off making my right turn, when I had the right of way from the word "go."

Friday, March 4, 2011

What do you think of this season's American Idol?

Sadly I think that the show has run its course. Randy is now the apparent voice of reason when it comes to being honest to the contestants. Still, the overall judgement seems to be very lenient this year, even with Randy's reasonable judgements so far. There is some interesting talent this year as each year seems to produce at least one or two standouts. That being said, I think this year's winner will suffer the same fate as last year's, or worse. That is, there won't be much fanfare, and there certainly won't be a whole heck of a lot of records sold. That "star" quality that is so important to creating a lasting personality the likes of Elton John, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, Elivis Presley, Michael Jackson (and the list goes on) just doesn't seem very likely at all. Even Idol's star girl who is frequently mentioned on the show, Kelly Clarkson, will not be a familiar name 30 years from now in my opinion. If American Idol does one thing right this year I think it will be to call it the end.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why aren't Americans protesting the Afghan and Iraq wars the way they protested Vietnam?

War is never pleasant for anyone involved. Still, I think the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq simply are on a different level than Vietnam was. The dynamics are different. For one, based on just the sheer numbers of wounded and dead soldiers during the course of the Vietnam war, there is no comparison. In Vietnam more than 50,000 soldiers lost their lives. That suggests to me, as well, that the intensity of the war in Vietnam was greater than the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Another large factor to consider is the draft. Right now the soldiers who serve are there because they have chosen of their own free will to serve in the armed forces. During the Vietnam war, men were sent into battle without a choice. Mandating people to do anything, especially something that they do not believe in, causes people to be more vocal, and active in making their feelings known, thus people protested heavily during the Vietnam war.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Should Americans protest in the streets and demand jobs like some other countries do?

In so many ways, the American condition when it comes to the kinds of jobs we have, the quality of the jobs we have, and how many we have, is of our own design. Every dollar we spend casts a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. It's clear that over the last 30 or so years (and probably longer) we've collectively decided as a people that it is more important to have cheap goods to buy than to have a good paying job that provides for our families, and that provides for our well-being into our retirement years. We've made a clear trade off. That said, the question was, should we protest in the streets and demand jobs? I say no. We should simply cast our vote using our wallets. Money talks is the old axiom, and I think it stands as the truth, plain and simple. If we want to live in a world where the jobs we get to keep in our own country are substandard, then we continue to shell out our dollars for goods made somewhere other than our own country. I'm not saying we cannot be a global economy, but I am saying that a global economy is only a good thing if we are not making the trade off that we have clearly made in this pursuit of global commerce. We've given up our pensions. We've given up our health care. We've given up solid paychecks and excellent wages. We've been forced to make it necessary to have two earners in the household, and to some extent, we've lost mountains of family values over the years as parents spend more time trying to make a living than raising their children to be respectable, productive members of society.

If the argument had been that the global economy would be a boon to Americans, then how is it that we've had to give up so much? How is it that the middle class have been an eroding class as companies have expanded and grown to such largesse? How is it that CEOs pay has grown from 40 times the earnings of the average American to 400 times the earnings of the average American, all the while having these same companies tout about the cost of paying workers, and paying workers' benefits?

But I digress. The dollar is what speaks volumes to these companies. The dollar is our vote, and it our best form of protest. Demanding jobs is not the right thing to do. Making decisions in our own lives as to how we use our money, and to some extent making some sacrifices, including paying a little bit more for certain goods, is a proactive and responsible way to conduct the conveyance of our message to the upper echelon. If we buy American made goods where there is an alternative to do so, and spend more time looking for those alternatives, and be more willing to spend the premium which is attached to those alternatives, then the companies who sell us the goods we buy will determine that heedless of the cost associated with making things here, companies will do what they must in order to fill the demand. Profits and profitability are the drivers of business. If we make companies who do not produce goods here unprofitable, they have no other choice but to change how they do business, including where they make the products they want to sell to us.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What are your thoughts on being labeled "conservative" or "liberal?"

So long as someone opens their mouth and speaks, someone will try and attach some "label" to that speech. That said, people have leanings, and those leanings can generally be easily described in a word. So, the labels themselves really don't bother me all that much. With that in mind, however, I think that we can and do put too much emphasis on a label, and tend to make generalizations overall regarding a person, and regarding anything that that person may have to say. It stands to reason that conservatives can have liberal ideas about certain things, and so can liberals have conservative ideas. You really do have to evaluate each individual idea a person has on its own merits alone, rather than simply assume that if the person leans liberal, everything that the person believes must have an absolute liberal ideology behind it. Take the thought, for example, that I am a republican. I call myself a moderate conservative politically. However, I happen to support the legalization of marijuana which also happens to be a quite liberal idea. I am against globalization when there is an imbalance in trade, and when good paying, quality American jobs are jeopardized. That's a generally democratic idea, and is darn-right near being protectionist. Definitely not a totally conservative leaning on that particular issue. When you have the ability to look past the labels we assign to people, and evaluate each idea separately on their merits alone, we see more forest for the trees, and miss out on less that can be potentially good for us all in the end.

Why does a democracy need a system of checks and balances?

A democracy needs to have a system of checks and balances because power is very addictive. Like so often money has a way of changing people, so does power. Having too much power can simply overwhelm a person, and can ultimately make them corrupt. A system that has checks and balances ensures that no one person can be permitted to have too much power. As well, a system of checks and balances also ensures that when things go wrong, and someone ultimately winds up with too much power and abuses it, they can be put to task and held accountable for their actions. Bear in mind that the United States is a democratic republic. This simply means that we are ruled by law, that we have a representative government, and we are principled in a democratic nature. These three areas of our system serves as our system of checks and balances, and all branches of our government are separate from one another.